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February 26, 2024

Sunak Faces Party Revolt Over Rwanda Deportation Plan

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Dec 8, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a Conservative party revolt and potential leadership crisis over his controversial plan to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda. Despite multiple legal and political setbacks, Sunak introduced new legislation this week aimed at resuscitating the policy.

Background

The Rwanda asylum plan was initially unveiled under former PM Boris Johnson in April 2022, as part of efforts to curb illegal migration. The policy would allow the UK to fly asylum seekers who arrive illegally on a one-way ticket to Rwanda, where their claims would be processed.

However, the first deportation flight in June was grounded after a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights over human rights concerns. Later in December, the High Court in London ruled the multi-million pound deal was lawful. But appeals are still ongoing.

The policy has so far cost British taxpayers around £240 million, without a single asylum seeker being removed to Rwanda. It continues to face major opposition – including from religious leaders, refugee organizations, and the United Nations.

New Legislation Introduced Despite Warnings

On December 7th, Sunak’s government introduced a new bill to Parliament asserting that Rwanda is a “safe country” and to limit asylum seekers’ ability to challenge their removal through the courts.

The prime minister claims the controversial bill will stop illegal migration and break the business model of people smuggling gangs.

“It will put the interests of the British public first, make sure that a typical illegal migrant cannot remain in this country,” he said.

However, the new bill has been met with fury by some senior Conservatives as well as opposition parties.

Critics argue it rides roughshod over international agreements and will face inevitable legal challenges. It has also led to the resignation of one minister, with other Tory MPs threatening to vote against what they see as a “shameful” and unethical policy.

Braverman Warns of “Electoral Oblivion”

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was forced to step down in October over a security breach, gave a scathing assessment of the proposed law in the Commons.

She suggested the policy would not deter asylum seekers from crossing the English Channel in small boats. She also warned failure to control immigration would lead the Conservatives to “electoral oblivion.”

“I have concerns about the policy of sending people more than 4,000 miles away without their consent to a country they do not know,” she told Parliament.

Minister Resigns Over “Serious Ethical Concerns”

The new bill also triggered the resignation of minister Robert Jenrick from Sunak’s government.

In his resignation letter, Jenrick said he had “serious ethical concerns” about the Rwanda policy, despite supporting the government’s overall approach to tackling illegal migration.

“I regret that despite the progress made since the summer, including the small boats action plan, the government is now unlikely to meet its manifesto commitments to stop the boats or reform the broken asylum system,” he wrote.

Mounting Pressure on Embattled PM

The Rwanda deportation plan is just the latest controversy pile pressure on Sunak’s troubled leadership. He has struggled to unite his fractious party since taking office in October and trails the opposition Labour party badly in opinion polls.

Sunak also faces a cost-of-living crisis, nurses strikes, and fallout from the mishandling of the COVID pandemic under Johnson. There is chatter of a potential leadership coup if things continue to unravel.

The Rwanda refugee crisis will be a major test of Sunak’s authority. He will likely offer concessions to quell the party rebellion over the bill. But backing down completely would be a humiliating blow.

What’s Next?

The new Rwanda legislation now goes to committee stage in early January, where it will face intensive scrutiny from MPs.

It remains unclear whether Sunak can rally sufficient Conservative support to push the bill through Parliament. Even if passed, the policy is likely to trigger legal appeals and protests.

For now, the controversial deportation scheme remains grounded. Sunak insists the Rwanda policy can work if given the chance. But as one of his ministers pointed out upon resigning this week:

“Regrettably, I have lost confidence in the government’s willingness to honor its commitment to the manifesto on which we were elected.”

Tables

Key Facts on Rwanda Refugee Plan

Item Details
Announced April 2022
First flight Grounded June 2022
Cost so far £240 million
Asylum seekers deported 0
New legislation Introduced December 2022
Key argument Rwanda “safe” country
Main opponents Senior Tories, opposition parties, aid groups
Next steps Bill committee stage in January

This table gives a quick summary of the key details, timeline and arguments around the controversial Rwanda asylum plan.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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